OSHA Fines Buzzi Unicem USA for Safety Violations that Led to Mississippi River Drowning

OSHA Fines Buzzi Unicem USA for Safety Violations that Led to Mississippi River Drowning

The cement manufacturer now faces penalties totaling $62,500.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified safety violations at a Buzzi Unicem USA facility in Natchez, Mississippi.

In a release dated August 17, OSHA announced its findings concerning the incident where a worker from Buzzi Unicem USA—which sells brick, stone and related construction materials manufactured at cement plants across the U.S.—fell from a barge into the Mississippi River in February 2023.

Buzzi Unicem USA now faces $62,500 in proposed penalties. OSHA concluded that the company's negligence placed three of its workers at risk of drowning, particularly due to the absence of mandated personal flotation devices. In total, the agency cited Buzzi Unicem USA—which operates as River Cement Sales Co.—for five serious violations, also including the absence of essential guardrails and first aid training, as well as the lack of an eyewash station.

“Buzzi Unicem USA could have prevented this tragedy by making sure employees wore the personal protective equipment that was readily available,” OSHA Area Office Director Courtney Bohannon in Jackson, Mississippi said in a statement. “Employers have a legal responsibility to provide employees with a safe and healthy workplace. This employer’s failures cost a worker his life and leaves family, friends, and loved ones with an unfillable void in their own lives.”

Buzzi Unicem USA now has 15 days to appeal L&I’s decision. The company currently has active appeals in three previous cases.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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